The Legacy We Don't Realize We Are Leaving.


I have been away from America for over 7 months now. I am saturated in a culture that is very different from the one I left, yet is very much affected by it. While Ukraine has its own language, customs, traditions, and way of life, the reach of western media is ever present here. I go to stores and they are playing the top 100s. I got to recitals and the kids are dancing to popular English music. I walk past kids on the street and hear them singing English song lyrics.

I talk to a lot of people about how they learn English or how they improve their English and I often hear, "I watched all the episodes of Friends", or "I really enjoy this or that band". So I'm not surprised by some of the English words or phrases I hear just tossed around.

I recently went on a trip to the mountains here in Ukraine (which are beautiful, go visit them) and was witness to a very interesting conversation. The conversation started innocently enough but then eventually led to the following sentence. "It's okay to say the n-word ( which she did say) if it ends in an -A that means friend." I asked her why she thought this and she said because she likes Western Music and especially rap music and she hears them say it all the time. She said if that wasn't an okay thing to say then the music wouldn't be so popular and they wouldn't say it so much.

I went to a dance recital in the public square a few months back and saw these cute little toddler dancing to "B**** Better have my money" in it's full unedited glory.

I was walking down the street the other day when a boy around the age of 10 heard me speaking English to another volunteer and ran up to us and said "What's up Mother F'er" then ran away giggling.

I hear people who are at various stages of learning English spout off random offensive or super outdated phrases because they heard them in rap music or because they heard them on a popular TV show. It always takes me a long time to fully process these scenarios.

I don't have a big red bow to wrap up this post and I don't have a huge point I'm trying to get across other than perhaps to make people aware of the fact that often times we (western mainstream culture) are the adults who for some reason recently stopped filtering out behaviour around "children". Or maybe not even adults but the unknowing big brother who's younger siblings idolize him yet he doesn't realize the influence he has over their behavior.

If you haven't left America and traveled somewhere else for an extended period of time, you might not realize how much of a reach and influence America has on other cultures. We are the proverbial Utopia to a lot of "2nd world" countries and I fear, we don't take that responsibility very seriously.

Just some food for thought. Thanks for making it this far through my brain dump. Let me know in the comments if you have a similar idea or a totally different opinion. I would be interested to know and starte a dialogue about it.

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